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Yoga and women's menstrual health. (How yoga can help regulate your period)

Updated: Jul 30, 2023

I am an Ashtangi, but I also love Yin, Hatha and Vinyasa Flow yoga too!


When I first got into Ashtanga, I was taking the contraceptive pill Cerazette and was a little resistant to come off it due to the fact that I had always had an erratic menstrual cycle, which became tiresome when I tried coming of birth control pill the first time. There were long 10 day cycles, with only a couple of days break in between to replace the pre-pill irregular periods, that were challenging to predict.


When I first visited Mysore, I was still taking the mini pill (Cerazette) and it practically stopped my cycle all together, something I didn’t mind or really focus on at the time. In Mysore though, I became aware that the traditional approach was that Ashtanga practitioners all took a break from the practise for the first 3 days of the menstrual cycle. I was informed by my teacher that the reason for this, is that some who do not honour this tradition, lose their period. I later met people that confirmed this had happened to them. Although I am sure we all have days were we wish we didn't menstruate, to lose the cycle all together is not something I wanted :)


Being on the mini pill meant that when my fellow students took their 3 day 'ladies holiday' I continued practising 6 days a week consistently. This shone a light for me that brought something I had been neglecting to my awareness.


The deeper I have gone into my practise, the more I have made lifestyle changes like giving up coffee and choosing a meat free diet and somehow I started to think that perhaps it might be a natural progression to also stop putting hormones into my body. So I decided to be brave and experiment to see what happened if I came off the mini pill...


…when my cycle returned properly rather than occasional brief stints, I was very careful to honour the 3 day 'holiday.' I was surprised and pleased to see that for the first time in all my life, not only were my cycles a normal duration, they are pretty much to-the-day-regular; an absolute first for me!


I was not an Ashtangi when I came off the same pill unsuccessfully before and I am sure yoga is what regulated my periods this time. In addition to this, I find that there is something quite wholesome about honouring the body and all it does for us by going slow on these days. I love to move my body, so sometimes I will do some yin or a very gentle flow with no inversions and no bandha or core engagement.


So, why a 3 day break you might ask... and why no Inversions or Bandha work?


The 3 day break is needed because Ashtanga involves a lot of inversions and deep core and bandha engagement. This can be disruptive during the first 3 days of the cycle due to the fact that the bandha work and inversions can prevent the downward flow of the body energetically and thus confuse its natural rhythm at a time that it is trying to eliminate what is not needed.


Sound like a random out of date tradition? I thought so too at first, but now I truly believe that regular yoga practise has regulated my cycle, another one of the benefits of yoga!


And so, this is why I now honour the 3 day break. After my time out, I always come back to my practise with new energy and joy to be back on the mat! I see this time away from the practise as self care, respecting my body and all it does for me. Our bodies are amazing.


I’m not a doctor and I do see the benefits of the pill. I am also conscious that what is right for the body can be individual. But for me, I am sure that coming of the pill and doing my Ashtanga practice, while honouring the 3 day rule has absolutely regulated my cycle. This is something I personally find liberating and freeing.


I hope my story and journey inspires positive changes for anyone else in a similar position that may be reading this, hence sharing.


Much love,

Lorraine, Mudra Om Yoga.

xxx


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